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Competition: New Kaunas bridge, Lithuania

Lithuania’s second largest city, Kaunas, has launched an international contest for a major downtown road bridge (Deadline: 31 October)

Organised by the Kaunas Architectural and Urban Renewal Council, the competition seeks proposals for a new crossing in a prominent location west of the city’s landmark old town.

The Kedainiai Bridge project aims to relieve peak congestion at peak times in this part of the city, which is home to major landmarks such as Kaunas castle, town hall and city square.

Kaunas, Lithuania

Kaunas, Lithuania

Kaunas, Lithuania

The competition brief says the bridge will ‘develop the connection of the southern part of Kaunas with the Via Baltica and Vilnius Klaipėda highway, bypassing the Old Town and the old bridge of Aleksotas …

‘[The bridge] is planned as an effective element of the Kaunas city infrastructure, which will help to free up peak loads in the centre and the streets of the Old Town – such as Birštono Street, St Gertrudos Street and Vilijampolė Bridge – bypassing them and at the same time improving the ecological situation.’

Kaunas is home to many academic institutions and emerging businesses. The settlement was recently named a UNESCO global creative city and will be European Capital of Culture in 2022.

The latest competition comes three months after Malcolm Reading Consultants launched a separate open contest for a €30 million waterfront concert hall less than 1.5km from the site of the planned bridge.

The MK Čiurlionis Concert Centre will occupy a landmark site overlooking the city’s historic old and new towns. A waterfront park and multifunctional spaces for public and community events will also be included alongside the 1,500-capacity concert hall.

Last year SimpsonHaugh and Partners was named one of three finalists in an earlier Malcom Reading competition for a €23 million national science and innovation centre on nearby Nemunas Island.

The overall winner of the bridge contest will receive a €4,000 prize, and there will also be a second prize of €3,000, third prize of €2,000, and two further prizes worth €1,000 each. The competition language is Lithuanian.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 2pm local time, 31 October.

Contact details

Snieguolė Surblienė
Kaunas Architectural and Urban Renewal Council
300618836
Vilniaus g. 22
Kaunas
44280
Lithuania

Tel: +370 37422248
Email: snieguole@laskaunas.lt

View the contract notice for more information

River Clyde Crossing case study: Q&A with Tony Kettle

The design principal at Kettle Collective Architects discusses lessons learned designing a new crossing over the River Clyde near Glasgow

Tony Kettle

Tony Kettle

Tony Kettle

How will your project deliver a suitable road crossing to improve transport within Renfrew, Clydebank and Yoker?

The new bridge is part of the Clyde Waterfront & Renfrew Riverside regeneration project, which aims to create a more attractive, vibrant and sustainable urban area. The new crossing will replace a small passenger ferry, creating a stronger link between disengaged communities. It will also unlock potential for future development and economic growth. Local businesses will benefit from improved connections to customers and suppliers on both sides of the river. New approach roads and other key infrastructure will optimise local transport networks, resulting in improved journey times, reliability and safety. Pleasant cycle routes and footpaths will enhance opportunities for leisure and active travel along the waterfront. The lighting design provides well-defined, functional illumination to roads and pathways, creating a safe crossing and minimising any distraction for aviation.

River Clyde Crossing by Kettle Collective Architects

River Clyde Crossing by Kettle Collective Architects

River Clyde Crossing by Kettle Collective Architects

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

The Bridge design celebrates the River Clyde’s shipbuilding heritage. We sourced historical photos and old maps, which revealed strong diagonal lines of the dry docks cut into embankments. There was also the movement of the cranes that turned in circular motions to construct the ships. The bridge is a twin-leaf design that is capable of opening and closing horizontally. It employs a modern cable stay system to support the two decks. Each deck leaf is cut on a 30-degree angle to resemble the dry dock lines. As the bridge opens and closes, the two vertical masts rotate to evoke the turning motion of cranes on the Clyde. This will create drama and dynamism that we believe will draw people to the area. The lighting strategy has been designed to accentuate the functional elements of the bridge, giving it an expressiveness and elegance. Subtle lighting effects will take place as the bridge rotates and add to the visual spectacle.

River Clyde Crossing by Kettle Collective Architects

River Clyde Crossing by Kettle Collective Architects

River Clyde Crossing by Kettle Collective Architects

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a landmark bridge to improve connections within Kaunas?

A bridge is not merely an engineering solution to fill a gap. It is a piece of theatre and symbol of strength, creativity and community. It connects people, businesses and services. Therefore the wider strategy of the bridge should be assessed. What are the economic and social benefits? The crossing will provide a better transport link but how will it create opportunities for local development in the community? The cultural and social significance of the bridge is as important as its technical design. There should be a symbiotic relationship between the bridge and its surroundings. It should be iconic and enhance the sense of identity, while making sure the existing character of Kaunas is not forgotten. Think about the experiential qualities of the bridge, on approach and departure for road users and pedestrians alike. For example, is there placemaking and view framing opportunities? Consider how the journey over bridge could tell a story linking it back to Kaunas.

River Clyde Crossing by Kettle Collective Architects

River Clyde Crossing by Kettle Collective Architects

River Clyde Crossing by Kettle Collective Architects

Q&A with Jūratė Merkevičienė

The director of the Kaunas Architecture and Urban Experts Council discusses her ambitions for the competition

Jūratė Merkevičienė

Jūratė Merkevičienė

Jūratė Merkevičienė

Why are your holding a competition for a new bridge in Kaunas?

The new Kėdainiu bridge in Kaunas is being planned near the old town over the river Nemunas and will influence the overview of the old town and the castle of Kaunas. It will also provide new views of Kaunas’s best scenery. The design will be of high importance – it should not block the best views of the old town – that‘s why the competition is so necessary. In Lithuania architectural competitions for bridges are quite rare; that’s why we are looking forward to foreign experience.

What is your vision for the new crossing?

The bridge will help to reduce the transit traffic through the old town and will upgrade traffic connections on both sides of the river. Original architectural ideas, innovation and the principle of sustainable development are the main evaluation criteria.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

This is a competition for the best idea, that’s why we are looking forward to young architects and original propositions. The winner will sign a contract with Kaunas municipality for implementation of the technical project. It will be an honour to be the author of such a significant object in the heart of Kaunas.

Contest site, Kaunas

Contest site, Kaunas

Contest site, Kaunas

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

Last year, together with Malcolm Reading Consultants, we organised an international competition for a science museum in Kaunas and we had 144 participants from all over the world. This year, besides this bridge competition, we held another international design contest for the Kaunas MK Čiurlionis Concert centre, which had 117 participants. An international jury is studying the entries right now. Kaunas municipality initiates a design contest every year, sometimes even two. This year we accomplished a study of Steigiamojo Seimo square in the old town and it might evolve into a design contest next year.

Are there any other city centre bridge projects you have been impressed by?

The wooden pedestrian bridge in Kėdainiai, Lithuania, to the main Didžiosios Rinkos Square over Nevėžis. It is being designed by Rimvydas Jurgis Palys and Ieva Palytė- Veilandienė. We hope it will become a landmark in Kėdainiai.

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